Houston (0-0) at LA Angels (0-0)
When: Thursday, April 7th 2022
Where: Angel Stadium,
Time: 9:38 ET | TV: MLBN
Opening Odds: Anaheim -120/8.5
The defending American League Champion Houston Astros will start the 2022 season on the road against one of the more disappointing teams from the 2021 season. The Anaheim Angels were supposed to compete with the Astros in the American League West, but the season turned into a disaster after center fielder Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon got injured. Trout played in just 36 games and Rendon in 58 with neither playing the second half of the season. The Angels are expected to have maybe the top 1-3 hitters in the lineup on a nightly basis with American League MVP Shohei Ohtani leading off, followed by Trout and Rendon. Anaheim finished 77-85 last year, 18 games behind the Astros and lost 13 of 19 to Houston.
The Astros are once again favored in the AL West, but will be missing one big piece from their recent runs to the World Series. Shortstop Carlos Correa signed with the Minnesota Twins in the offseason, turning down $160 million for five more years in Houston. Starting at short will be Jeremy Pena, who was limited to 30 games last season at Triple-A Sugar Land because of a broken wrist suffered in spring training. He hit well after the injury, bashing 10 home runs with a .944 OPS. Houston eventually lost to the Atlanta Braves in the Fall Classic, four games to two.
Pitchers: Astros – Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14) | Angels – Shohei Ohtani (9-2, 3.18)
Valdez will get the Opening Day nod for a Houston rotation that is ranked as one of the best in the majors. He will always be around the plate, posting a very nice 1.6 walks per nine innings of work. Valdez went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Angels last year and has limited Anaheim to one or less runs in four of his seven career starts against them.
Ohtani will not only leadoff for the Angels, but he’ll get the Opening Day start at home. He ended the 2021 season by allowing two runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts. Ohtani went 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against Houston last season and was tagged for nine hits and six runs in 3.1 innings at Minute Maid Park in September.
The Angels had all sorts of problems against Houston last year, going 6-13 against them and allowing eight or more runs eight times. I’ll take the small dog here.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free MLB Picks page for today.
Pick: Astros +112